Saturday, December 17, 2011

Meet Autumn Piper and She's Waiting for Revenge

Waiting for Revenge:

One good heartbreak deserves another.

Mandy plans to leave her husband the minute their month of counseling is over. How can she forgive his outrageous affair? It would almost be funny if the consequences weren't so harsh. They've got kids, and families with strong -- and warped -- opinions on marriage.

Her aunt thinks she should take a page from the black widow spider. Her brother's begging to avenge her broken heart, and their marriage counselor offers to play the willing victim in some payback sex.

While her clueless husband launches a campaign to win her back, Mandy meets Adam, the perfect shoulder to cry on. Will perfect justice prove just how sweet revenge can be when you wait for it?

Content Warning: Real people aren’t all good or all bad. Neither are the characters in this story. The shade of right or wrong you see may depend upon whose glasses you are looking through.

EXCERPT: (Mandy is out to lunch with her bossy big brother Mark, who—despite her best efforts--has caught wind of her marital woes)

We exchange small talk, he tells me some silly story about Jake and his little dirt bike, and we order our food. Mark gets two entrees—two!—and I know he’ll be eating whatever I don’t suck up quick from my own plate. His poor wife doubles all her recipes, just to make sure she has enough for him at every meal.

“How come Jake hasn’t been around this month?” It’s unusual, and I can’t recall being mean to the kid.

Mark looks across the table at me with his eyebrows stretching up a bit closer to his receding hairline, and I have a feeling young Ben has been confiding in his cousin. Naturally, Jake would have repeated his concerns to his dad. Naturally.

“What do you know?” All I can do is shake my head in resignation.

“That you haven’t slept in the same room with Mike since Thanksgiving, and he’s been
showerin’ you with presents the whole time. Been usin’ his dipstick to check somebody else’s oil,huh?”

It must’ve been easy to deduce. After all, I’ve never been cross with Mike for more than a few hours before this. I nod, rolling my eyes at Mark’s silly way of describing The Indiscretion.

“Want me to kick his ass?”

This makes me smile. I hadn’t thought of that before.

“Watcha gonna do about it?”

Same old question, but at least I have an answer. “Nothing till after Christmas. I agreed to go to counseling for a month. But it’s over. Know a good divorce lawyer?”

Oops, I left him wide open to tell a lawyer joke. Never mind that he once wanted to be one. Now he acts like they’re all bad.

“Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, an honest lawyer, and an old drunk are all walking down the street when they spot a hundred dollar bill on the ground. Who gets it?” He barely pauses before delivering his punchline. “The old drunk, because all the rest are mythological.”

Mark waits for me to smile, then gives me the name of a guy he knows who is an effective lawyer. “You tell Mom yet?” He’s looking at me the same way he did when I brought home Mom’s Buick with a big ding in the fender. His eyes say what his mouth mercifully doesn’t: “Bummer, Mand. But better you than me.”

“I wasn’t really planning to tell anybody till after Christmas.”

“Kenna and I were afraid you were thinkin’ of lettin’ Mikey slide.”

“I did consider it, for a while.”

“Why the hell would you do that?” Mark doesn’t get angry often, but he’s pretty irritated right now. Usually Irritated Mark is scary enough to make people comply with his wishes.

I’ll push the envelope though, knowing he’s soft inside. “It’s my life, Mark. And it’s my right to decide who to forgive, and for what.”

He’s looking at me like I’m stupid. The glasses he put on when the server took our menus are coming off. Mark can’t see with glasses. He takes them off to drive. He takes them off to read. He doesn’t actually need them. I know this because one of my best friends works at the optometrist’s office, and she told me Mark begged the doctor—an old friend of his—to give him a prescription, so they got him the lowest one available. Mark has a bit of a complex about people thinking he’s dumb because he’s big. Wearing glasses makes him look smart, and he looks good in them, too.
But now they’re off, and he’s focusing on me, eyes narrowed in either a squint or more profound irritation than before. “That’s just plain stupid, Mandy.”


Writing is like the perfect solitary sport. I believe that writers, like athletes, need to be prepped and ready before they can write. What are your routines/preparations before you sit down to write?

I need to disconnect from the internet, email…any type of distraction. Sometimes if I want to “get the juices flowing,” I’ll work on a jigsaw puzzle, do a sudoku, or even take a brisk walk—any of these will wake up the old brain cells and get them firing again. And I do well with music, but it needs to be in headphones, not from an “external” source like speakers.

Do you have habits as a writer? Always outlining? Never outlining? Keep a notebook with character information?

In the past I’ve been a wild pantser. However… that has gotten me into trouble more than once. So now I try to at least take notes on what I’m writing, and maybe jot down ideas ahead of time if I can’t write them then.

What was the inspiration behind this book?

The first time I went to a local writers’ group meeting, someone mentioned a writing contest, with an entry deadline in two weeks. It was a week before Thanksgiving, and I had no idea what to write about, but decided to come up with something. Holidays seem fraught with emotion—good for most families, and downright awful in others. And since writing a short story presented a challenge for me (my ongoing 1st novel at that point had already capped out around 189k words), I opted for a story that would leave readers to decide the ending for themselves. The premise was this: a woman out for a walk on Thanksgiving, after in-laws had gone home, facing a decision about her marriage after she’d caught her husband fooling around the night before at a party.

While she’s out walking, she meets a man (and they have instant chemistry), who shows obvious interest in her, going so far as to confess he watches her out walking every day. Which is a little creepy and makes his character a little iffy… During this meeting, she feels drawn to him regardless, and ends up spilling her troubles to him. He asks her what she’s going to do about her marriage, but she doesn’t know yet, and leaves him wondering, along with the reader.

I won 3rd place in the writing contest.

But then…

Even though I loved leaving my readers hanging, I’d kind of gotten attached to my main character Mandy. I liked her pithy, smart-ass way of seeing things, and really wanted to see if she’d take her wayward husband back, or go for the new guy. And, being a pantser, I honestly had no idea how it’d turn out. I did know her husband wasn’t all bad, and she wasn’t perfect, and Adam (aka New Guy) wouldn’t be 100% good—because I was tired of stories with perfect lead characters and totally evil bad guys.

Being that we’re now in full-out holiday mode, what would you like to ask Santa for this year? (And if you say world peace, we’re allowing the reindeer to eat your chocolate).

The world can go crazy outside my walls, so long as I get a new Kindle Touch. LOL (I do have a Sony Reader, but the battery is about shot, and I’m tired of dinking around with cables to get books on it—and then half the time there’s some licensing issue and I have to re-download the book and then hook up the Reader again…not the most user-friendly ebook reader out there. Took a long time for me to figure out—and I know it’s not just me, because I’ve helped 2 other people who’ve gotten one and couldn’t figure it out.)

What would a reader discover in your book that excites you? (Such as, I always have characters based on us old farts but usually they’re the strangest or crudest ones. Carolyn usually includes a dinosaur or two as a small memento of her childhood.)

I kind of like to screw with readers by having my characters be both good and bad, rather than the traditional romance good-characters-are-wonderful and bad-characters-are-pure-evil cookie cutouts. Some readers are receptive to this, and others… not so much. And that’s okay with me. A happy ending is about all you can count on for sure in one of my books.

Did you always dream of being a writer when you grew up? Any words of advice to aspiring writers?

When I was about 6, I desperately wanted to be “an artist,” which back then I figured consisted of water paints and giant canvases. Eventually I figured out my talent in that field was rather, erm, absent. By the time I was 9, if I got a creative writing project, I’d run with it. My teacher probably started thinking twice before she handed out fiction assignments, after she got that first 25-pager from me. I still didn’t really consider writing commercially though, until was an adult. An adult probably past her prime, but not interested in facing that fact. So here I am…

Words of advice for aspiring writers? As EIC at Lyrical Press (under a different code name), I’ll give you a couple hints: 1)Don’t try to make your fiction like your high school teacher wanted. Even college creative writing classes really don’t teach you how to write commercial fiction. For that, you really need to hit writing groups online. Get a few critique partners. You’ll not only learn how to write, but you’ll learn how to fix what’s wrong in writing (aka edit). Oh, and 2) Get a few critique partners. Several different people read the same piece of writing and find all different errors, plus come up with many ideas to improve it. You’ll get lots of practice with writing and revising. Plus, all those contacts will know what’s going on in the industry and keep you informed. You’ll not only learn how to write, but you’ll learn how to fix what’s wrong in writing (aka edit). Did I already say that? Since I repeated it, it must be important…

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to see this is written in first person, present tense. I've heard how some readers don't like present tense, but sometimes it's the only thing that'll do.

    Thank you for stopping by our blog. I enjoyed both your excerpt and the answers to Lori's questions.

    Have a very Merry Christmas. :-)